Tour begins: 5:30 PM, Amsterdam. Welcome to Amsterdam! Transfers are included from Schiphol Airport or Amsterdam Centraal Station to your riverboat, where embarkation will begin any time after 4:00 PM. Enjoy a welcome briefing and a leisurely dinner as you settle into your floating hotel for a memorable two-week cruise on the Main, Rhine and Danube rivers.
Great art, a canal cruise and more in Amsterdam
Amsterdam... the name itself conjures up images of the Dutch capital's myriad cultural treasures, from gabled houses, markets and cafés to awe-inspiring museums housing a treasure trove of world-famous art - and it's all yours to enjoy today. Your guided tour of the famed Rijksmuseum is really inspiring - a firsthand look at Rembrandt's masterpiece The Night Watch is like meeting the artist himself, and you'll love seeing acclaimed works by other well-known "Old Dutch Masters." Once an exclusive royal privilege, a private sightseeing cruise by canal boat on the city's network of concentric, tree-lined 17th-century canals provides a unique view of Amsterdam's blend of architectural styles - they date all the way back to medieval times - and a unique taste of daily life in this easygoing city. Join us for a welcome reception and dinner tonight as we chart a course to Germany.
A blend of modern and ancient history in Köln
After a morning of cruising and lunch aboard the riverboat, your explorations continue in Köln (Cologne), the oldest city in Germany. A guided walking tour of city sights includes a visit to twin-spired Kölner Dom (Cologne Cathedral), boasting one of the world's largest church façades; it is one of Europe's most beloved Gothic cathedrals. You'll have some free time to wander through Cathedral Square and the Hohe Strasse pedestrian area in the afternoon. Dinner aboard ship tonight is followed by an onboard performance by local musicians.
Cruising to Rüdesheim & music machines
The perfect Rhine cruise... glide along the river until early afternoon, and relax as your Tauck Director shares a tale or two during the cruise through the scenic - and literally legendary - Lorelei Valley, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Arrive in Rüdesheim, where an entertaining lunch in a local German restaurant with an old-world ambiance precedes a visit to Siegfrieds Mechanisches Musikkabinett, an eclectic collection of mechanical musical instruments housed in a 15th-century castle in Rüdesheim, followed by free time; walk back to the ship or ride the mini train. Alternatively, you can choose to join us on a bicycling excursion along the Rhine today. Back aboard the riverboat this evening, enjoy dinner while cruising the Rhine.
A full day cruising the Main
Enjoy the views as your Rhine cruise continues into the Main River, for a full day of cruising through scenic valleys studded with castles, cathedrals, and fortified towns. Enjoy a Bavarian-themed dinner aboard the riverboat tonight.
Rothenburg or Würzburg, plus a wine tasting
Spend the morning cruising and have lunch aboard the riverboat before arriving in Würzburg for choice of sightseeing. You can choose an excursion to medieval Rothenburg, on Germany's "Romantic Road," to see its Gothic cathedral and gabled houses on a walking tour, and enjoy some free time. Or stay in Würzburg and visit its famous Residenz, where the town's prince bishops lived from 1744. One of the largest and most beautiful Baroque palaces in Germany, it was built and decorated in the 18th century by an international team of architects, painters, and sculptors, and is today recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Then, gather in the Residenz wine cellar for a tasting of the local vintage. Both groups will return to the riverboat for dinner aboard ship followed by entertainment.
River cruising along the Main to Bamberg
Your riverboat cruises along the Main to the Bavarian town of Bamberg, a UNESCO World Heritage Site situated atop seven hills. You have a choice between discovering the town's lovely gardens, medieval architecture and 13th-century Gothic cathedral with its four imposing towers on a guided walking tour of Old Town (with time afterwards to explore this charming town on your own); or embarking on a bicycling excursion (due to the terrain, this activity is recommended for fit and experienced cyclists only). Enjoy dinner back aboard the riverboat this evening.
Historic Nürnberg & the Main-Danube Canal
Tauck's Main, Danube and Rhine cruise arrives this morning in historic Nürnberg, where you'll have a choice of a walking tour through Nürnberg's medieval ramparts to the Imperial Castle and the old city, or view the Courthouse, Zeppelinfeld rally grounds, and other sites associated with World War II and its aftermath, and visit the Documentation Center. Your riverboat negotiates the Main-Danube Canal today, which ultimately links the North Sea with the Black Sea - and which you'll learn all about from a local expert during your transit. The idea goes back as far as Charlemagne, but wasn't realized until this canal was completed in the 1990s; pass through 16 locks as the waterway traverses the mountains. Have dinner aboard the riverboat this evening.
A visit to Regensburg mixes ancient times and today
With its roots as a Roman encampment on the Danube, the quintessential Bavarian town of Regensburg is home to more than 1,400 original historic buildings. Walking here is a delight and is the only way to view the sights up-close. A local guide will lead the way as you see the town's 12th-century Steinerne Brücke (Germany's oldest surviving stone bridge), the 15th-century Altes Rathaus (Town Hall), the towering Dom St. Peter, and the remains of the Roman wall. Visit the princely house of Thurn und Taxis on a guided tour. Enjoy an onboard musical performance by a local quartet before your ship sets off for Passau.
Explore Baroque Passau and cruise the Danube
Renowned for its stained glass, a wealth of church architecture, and a host of beautiful Baroque buildings, Passau sits at the juncture of the Inn, Ilz and Danube rivers. Explore this ancient Bavarian town on a guided walking tour; inside St. Stephan's Cathedral, you'll see (and perhaps even hear) the largest pipe organ outside of the U.S. (and the world's biggest cathedral organ), dressed in gold and boasting over 17,000 pipes! Continue cruising the Danube, with insights from your Tauck Directors and a musical performance by the Donau 3Klang Trio this evening.
Melk Abbey & a Grand Evening in Vienna
Your next destination is the town of Melk, Austria, where you'll step back in time on a guided tour of its 900-year-old Benedictine Abbey, perched on a rocky outcrop above the river. Inside this Baroque masterpiece are fine frescoes, early manuscripts, and a high altar. Back aboard the riverboat, enjoy views of castles, vineyards, small towns, monasteries and medieval ruins while cruising through the Wachau Valley toward the magnificent Austrian capital city of Vienna. Tonight, a Tauck Exclusive - a private, gala evening in the beautiful Baroque Palais Pallavicini in the heart of the city, featuring a sumptuous dinner and live entertainment - just might sweep you off your feet!
An "Imperial" day in Vienna
Get an overview of Vienna, Austria's capital and one of Europe's greatest cities, with a morning sightseeing tour of this historic former capital of the Habsburg Empire. Take your choice of a tour of Schönbrunn Palace, the Habsburgs' vast "summer residence" built to rival Versailles, or a guided visit to the Sisi Museum and the amazing Imperial Apartments inside the Hofburg, the Habsburg family's former royal palace that today is the official residence of Austria's president. Explore the city as you wish this afternoon, or return to the riverboat; dinner is aboard ship tonight.
Across the centuries in Bratislava, Slovakia
Depart Vienna after breakfast, and spend the morning cruising to Slovakia. Arrive early afternoon in Bratislava, capital of Slovakia, where 17 centuries of history are chronicled on a walking tour led by a local guide. Highlights include Baroque palaces from the Habsburg era, St. Martin's Cathedral and more, and a visit to Old Town Hall. This evening, enjoy dinner aboard the riverboat followed by onboard Slovakian entertainment by local performers in the lounge; set off for Budapest tonight.
Both sides of remarkable Budapest
Tauck's memorable Amsterdam to Budapest river cruise arrives at your final destination - Budapest, Hungary's remarkable capital. Standing on opposite banks of the Danube, Budapest's two distinct sections - Buda and Pest - were once independent cities. Discover both on a day of sightseeing that includes views of patriotic Heroes' Square in Pest, dominated by statues of great leaders from Hungarian history; the Gothic-Revival Parliament building, an iconic feature of the Budapest skyline along the Danube; and Fisherman's Bastion, standing watch like a sentinel over the river. Spend the afternoon exploring on your own. Join us for our farewell reception and dinner tonight onboard ship.
Tour ends: Budapest. Disembark in Budapest; a transfer is included from the riverboat to Budapest Ferenc Liszt International Airport and Budapest Keleti Railway Station. Allow 3 hours for departure flight check-in.